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The island of sodor:

it's people, history and railways


Written by the Rev. W. Awdry and George Awdry

Throughout the years he had been writing the Railway Series, the Rev. Awdry and his brother, George, had also been developing the Sodor universe.  Awdry had given numerous lectures on his island and his railways over the years, and the meticulous detail he had gone into was enough to convince his audience that these places were real.  The Island of Sodor was published in 1987, to be a guide to the Railway Series universe, providing a template of what Sodor was, is and eventually will be.  Kaye & Ward did a limited print run, and it has become in recent years, with the rise of the Thomas fandom on the internet, the Holy Grail of Thomas paraphernalia, with copies on E-bay often fetching figures of over £100 for a copy.  However, to the serious collector, it is well worth pursuing a copy.

Overview & Summary Written by R Healy

The Island of Sodor is split into four major component parts.  The first part, The Beginning, explains how the Rev. Awdry and his brother, George, began to search for a convenient location to set the stories.  And how Sodor

was only ever found with thanks to the Bishop of Sodor & Man, with the Rev. Awdry taking great pleasure in restoring the ‘lost’ part of his diocese to him.  They go on to explain how they developed the island’s geography, history and industry accordingly, to the point where it was very ‘real’ and even convinced an audience member at one of the Rev’s lectures that his chronicles of Sodor could put him in a dangerous libel position.


Places On Sodor takes us on a journey across the Island, explaining the development of the various railway companies that gave rise to the existing North Western Railway and its branch lines.  Notable towns, villages and places of historical interest are given an extensive write-up throughout the book, as well as detailed histories of the various narrow gauge railways and their associated industries.


People & History looks at various fictional people of present day Sodor, and real historical figures of the past who played an important part in the development of the Island’s politics, ancient wars and other notable events.


Locomotives looks at the notable engines that have featured in the Railway Series, and gives a deeper explanation for how they came to be part of the Fat Controller’s railway, which is an element that Awdry never really touched on throughout his time writing the Railway Series books, particularly for the earlier characters such as Thomas, Edward, Henry, Gordon and James.


The book also has a list of the Railway Series volumes published until 1987 and maps of the Island of Sodor, including the first one of Thomas’s Branch Line, done by Awdry to aid the development of the race in Thomas & Bertie.

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